Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NM Game Commission denies fed's request for wolf permits

A showdown over the Mexican gray wolf left the federal government vowing Tuesday to move ahead with plans to recover the endangered species despite the refusal of state wildlife officials to issue permits allowing for the release of wolves in New Mexico. The New Mexico Game Commission denied an appeal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a packed meeting in Albuquerque. The move prompted a chorus of boos from the dozens of people in the audience who were holding signs that read “More wolves, less politics.” No public comment on the matter was allowed. Officials with the Fish and Wildlife Service said they were disappointed with the outcome given that delaying releases could compromise the genetics of the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona. Sherry Barrett, coordinator of the Mexican wolf recovery program, did not address accusations that politics played a role in the state’s decision but said her agency has a duty under federal law to help the species. “Our goal is recovery,” she said after the meeting. “We still need to move forward with releases of wolves to address the genetic health of the population.” The Fish and Wildlife Service has a policy of consulting with states and complying with permit requirements except in instances where the U.S. Interior Department secretary determines that doing so would compromise the agency’s ability to meet its responsibilities. The agency initially sought permits to release a pair of wolves and their pups onto federal land in New Mexico and to allow for up to 10 captive pups to be raised by foster wolves in the wild. The requests were denied in June by state Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval, who said federal officials did not provide enough information for her to determine if wolf releases would conflict with other state conservation efforts...more

National Park Service to take over management of Valles Caldera

It’s 89,000 acres of pristine wilderness. The Valles Caldera Trust was created through a piece of legislation passed in 2000. Now, the coveted piece of public land is changing hands. Beginning October 1, the National Park Service will take over. The Valles Caldera started as the historic Baca Ranch, nestled in the Jemez Mountains. For years, the stunning landscape was private land. Now, representatives with the National Park Service want to make the are even more accessible. “My first hope is to make this a seamless transition for the public,” said Valles Caldera’s new superintendent, Jorge Silva-Banuelos. Silva-Banuelos hopes their hats are the only change people see when they visit the the caldera under National Park Service management.On October 10, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be in New Mexico to help dedicate the Valles Caldera as one of the country’s newest national parks...more

Environmental groups seek end to all Arctic Ocean drilling

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA Royal Dutch Shell's decision to end its quest for oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska sparked jubilation among environmental activists, who said Tuesday that they will seize the opportunity to seek an end to all drilling to in the region. But while Shell's move is a definite setback for oil companies, it does not mean offshore drilling is dead or that the Arctic Ocean has any greater protection now than it had last week. Shell's decision gives advocates on both sides a chance to pause and consider whether Arctic drilling should continue, said Mike LeVine of the ocean-advocacy group in Juneau known as Oceana. Royal Dutch Shell PLC spent more than $7 billion on Arctic offshore development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and was dogged at every regulatory level by environmental groups, which feared that a spill in the harsh climate would be difficult to clean up and devastating to polar bears, walruses, seals and other wildlife. The next step for many environmental advocates is to establish "some sort of binding policy so that these decisions are not up to oil companies," said Cassady Sharp, spokeswoman for Greenpeace USA in Washington, D.C...more

AFBF - Poll shows broad support for Endangered Species Act reform

Most Americans think the Endangered Species Act is outdated and needs to be revised, a survey by Morning Consult shows. The poll conducted in early August adds impetus to congressional efforts to overhaul the increasingly outdated 1970s-era statute. The survey shows:
 63 percent of Americans support modernizing the ESA; 62 of Americans believe the act should help with species recovery, as opposed to merely cataloguing changes in their populations;
 69 percent of Americans want the federal government to offer resources to third parties to help species recovery; and
49 percent of Americans believe that state or local authorities, rather than the federal government, lead in recovery of endangered and threatened species. Only 31 percent of Americans favor the federal government taking the lead.
 “The intent of the Endangered Species Act is inspiring, but results have been less so,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farmers, ranchers and environmentalists agree that we must save wildlife facing preventable extinction, but the current recovery rate of less than 2 percent shows the law is a failure...more

Giant Geyser Erupts After Over Five Years

Some surprising news out of Yellowstone National Park: Giant Geyser, one of its most powerful, erupted early this morning (28th) around 5:03 a.m. MST. This is all the more amazing because Giant, reportedly the second tallest active geyser in the world behind Steamboat Geyser, has a remarkably spotty eruption record. Indeed, it has several different eruptions, according to the Geyser Observation and Study Association. Unlike Steamboat, however, Giant Geyser has been known to veer into periods of remarkable activity for much longer periods. For large swaths of 1997 and 1998, Giant Geyser erupted every three to four days, with some gaps. It had a comparable fit of activity between 2006 and 2007 Giant is the central geyser of the Giant Group, which includes Mastiff Geyser and Bijou Geyser...more

Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean

It is, for our home planet, an extremely warm year. Indeed, last week we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going back to 1880. It’s just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015. Yet, if you look closely, there’s one part of the planet that is bucking the trend. In the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has seen very cold temperatures for the past eight months. What’s up with that?...more

All Those Climate Change Pledges Are A Farce, New York Times Says

fter decades spent playing up the dangers of a warming planet, the New York Times admits that even if every country lived up to their current carbon reduction pledges, it won't make any difference. Pointing to a "new analysis,' the Times notes that the planet would still heat up by 6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too high to prevent global catastrophes from raining down. The analysis comes from Climate Interactive, which is the source of carbon calculations used by the U.S. and other governments. It concluded the current pledges — made in advance of the big Paris conference on climate change — would reduce the expected global warming to 6.3 degrees, from 8.1 degrees that would occur without those pledges. Keep in mind that climate scientists say that any warming above 3.6 degrees will be really, really bad. (Some even say this threshold is too high.) So what's the point? Why should countries undertake a hugely expensive effort to reduce carbon emissions, when the climate scientists themselves are saying it won't do any good? Because they want to feel better about themselves? Get some good headlines?...more

'Beyond Belief': Obama Moves to Close Last US Uranium Plant

The Obama administration plans to close the last remaining American-owned uranium enrichment facility in the United States, even as it moves forward on a controversial nuclear deal with Iran that permits the Islamic Republic to conduct ongoing and significant uranium enrichment. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has informed Centrus Energy it will end the American Centrifuge project in Piketon, Ohio, on Sept. 30. Notices have been issued to some 235 workers that their jobs are in jeopardy. "This is beyond belief," Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, responded in a statement. "While this administration is greenlighting uranium enrichment in Iran and legitimizing 6,000 Iranian centrifuges, they're shutting down domestic production here in America."...more 

NYC mayor urges city pension funds to divest from coal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing that New York City's pension funds divest from coal. The mayor began making his case to the city's five pension funds on Tuesday. Administration officials briefed The Associated Press on the plan the day before. New York City's five public employee pension funds' assets total more than $160 billion, with at least $33 million of exposure to thermal coal in the public markets. De Blasio has set a goal to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emission by 80 percent by 2050. He also will advise the pension boards to consider other environmentally friendly investments. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is custodian to the funds' boards and has also endorsed green policies, supports the measure...more

Minnesota court: BB gun is a ‘firearm’

A BB gun is a firearm, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled. The court made its declaration in the case of a man who was not allowed to possess a firearm because of an earlier felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance. This is the law that tripped up David Haywood. Any person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, as defined in section 624.712, subdivision 5, and who ships, transports, possesses, or receives a firearm, commits a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both. But the law doesn’t define what a firearm is. Haywood argues that a dictionary definition of firearm — “a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder” — should clear him because a BB gun doesn’t use gunpowder. “Haywood’s argument might be persuasive if we were writing on a clean slate,” Judge Michelle Ann Larkin wrote in today’s opinion (pdf). However, Minnesota’s appellate courts have consistently interpreted the term “firearm” as used within certain sections of chapter 609 to include BB guns.”...more

Colorado Sheriffs Move Forward With Challenge Of State Gun Laws

A group of sheriffs from different Colorado counties are moving forward with their fight to repeal stricter state gun laws put in place three years ago. Those laws limit the capacity of ammunition magazines and expand background checks on gun purchases in Colorado. Sheriffs like Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario say they are committed to fighting to protect what they say is citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Dozens of current and former sheriffs gathered in Denver on Monday along with gun rights groups at the Byron White Courthouse. Many of those individuals are named in a lawsuit which challenges Colorado’s new laws. Many of the sheriffs say the gun laws in question are unenforceable. One example, they say, of a violation that is nearly impossible to enforce is when someone lends a gun to a friend. A district court previously rejected the sheriffs’ claims but they appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1502

Its a blue Wednesday, so here is Johnnie Lee Wills & His Boys telling us all about the Devil's Blues.  The tune was recorded in Dallas on April 28, 1841.   That's Cotton Thompson on fiddle and vocal.  The tune is on a Krazy Kat CD titled The Band Band's A-Rockin'.  The Westerner

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interior proposes banning new mining on 10 million acres to protect the sage grouse

The Interior Department is considering withdrawing up to 10 million acres in six states from new hardrock mining claims as part of its sweeping federal plans designed to protect and restore greater sage grouse habitat. The proposal has drawn howls of protest from the mining industry and some congressional leaders, who say the impact of the withdrawals could be devastating to the industry and the mostly rural communities that depend on the jobs and revenue it contributes to local economies. The withdrawals proposed by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service target the most critical sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. The withdrawals are recommended in the federal sage grouse plans finalized by Interior yesterday, and would prohibit new mining claims on the specific BLM or Forest Service lands under the General Mining Law of 1872...more

Does the Secretary of Interior have the authority to withdraw this huge acreage from mining?  Yes. 

Who gave the Secretary this power to act?  The Congress (See Section 204 of FLPMA).  

The Dems love this authority, so no help there.  What about the Repubs?  They will scream and holler when a Dem administration uses it, but do nothing to revoke that authority during Repub administrations.  Just like the authority to designate huge monuments, the Repubs do nothing when they are in the majority to move that authority back to Congress.  Therefore, one must conclude they approve of that authority.  So no help there either.

Shell calls off its multibillion-dollar mission in Alaska's Arctic

Royal Dutch Shell is walking away from dreams of offshore oil in Alaska's Arctic after coming up dry on its $7 billion test well in the Chukchi Sea. Citing high costs, disappointing results and an “unpredictable” regulatory environment, Shell announced Monday that it’s giving up and leaving Alaska for the “foreseeable future.” Politicians quickly cast blame on the federal government and the Obama administration for sandbagging the regulatory process, slowing progress until it was no longer worth the trouble for Shell. The company's ambitious plans for Alaska may not be completely dead, but it’s unlikely that any Shell drilling will happen in the state’s Arctic waters anytime soon. "Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the U.S.,” said Marvin Odum, director of Shell Upstream Americas, while acknowledging a “clearly disappointing” outcome to exploration...more

Lawsuits challenge limits on industry that aim to save Sage Grouse

Officials in Idaho and Nevada and some mining companies sued the federal government over new restrictions on mining, energy development and grazing that are intended to protect a declining bird species across millions of acres of the American West. The cases are the first to contest the Obama administration’s declaration this week that it can protect the greater sage grouse without hobbling the region’s economy. Some Republicans and critics from the mining and energy industries contend that the restrictions imposed instead of Endangered Species Act protections for the bird were equally onerous and would stifle development. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Friday that federal officials wrongly ignored local efforts to protect the bird, leading him to sue in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. “We didn’t want a (threatened or endangered) listing, but in many ways these administrative rules are worse,” the Republican governor said in a statement. A similar lawsuit was filed in Nevada by an attorney for two counties and some mining companies...more

Ranchers in Limbo: BLM has not released a plan to rehabilitate acres burned by Soda Fire

More than 10,000 acres of scorched land covers the Wilsey Ranch 25 miles outside of Marsing. As Ed Wilsey rides around on his ATV, he points out multiple graves he created for his cattle. He then points out multiple deer trails on a hill that leads to his land. “Every evening a big herd of them just come over the hill,” he said. Wilsey’s ranch was burned in the Soda Fire, which destroyed more than 400 square miles in Owyhee County and in eastern Oregon. Out of the 10,000 acres Wilsey used to graze his cattle, only 700 acres were his private land. The rest belonged to the Bureau of Land Management. According to a Bureau of Land Management spokesperson, a plan to seed and restore lost acres in Owyhee County is underway. In the meantime, Wilsey and other ranchers are in limbo. “It’s going to be at least two years before they let me back on the land,” Wilsey said. “So now I just wait and see what they say.” For the last few weeks, Wilsey has been tilling and tearing up his private acres that burned to prepare them for seeding. He said he’ll start seeding in the next couple of weeks using multiple methods. By using a mix of seeds, he hopes to start seeing growth by next spring...more

Mapping America's Unprecedented Vulnerability to Wildfires

In the U.S., the steadiest population growth isn’t happening in urban centers. It’s in suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas. And as we make more and more homes along the very fringes of metropolitan areas, the more we come into contact with natural habitats. And the consequences might not be obvious. Putting aside conservation concerns, higher numbers in the “wildland/urban interface” (or the “WUI,” as the U.S.D.A Forest Service calls it) means higher numbers of homes vulnerable to wildfire. As of 2010, 99 million people, or about one-third of all people in the United States, lived in the WUI. The WUI is is formally defined as any area with at least one structure per 40 acres that’s either next to (what’s called “WUI Interface”) or sprinkled within (“WUI intermix”) a certain minimum expanse of naturally vegetated land. (Urban homes adjacent to a park, for example, wouldn’t included.) A new map by the forest service shows us where the WUI lies. The agency charts the extent of WUI in the contiguous U.S. every decade, using Census housing data and the National Land Cover Dataset (that’s why this year’s map is for 2010.) An accompanying report explains that the WUI has grown since the last map was made. Setting aside questions about forest fragmentation, habitat loss, and land conservation—all mighty concerns in their own right—the map is a reminder of how the risk of wildfire is spreading beyond the forest to human settlements...more

Wallowa County horse killed by elk, not wolves

When a horse turned up dead earlier this month in rural Wallowa County after an apparent bloody struggle, wolves were investigated as the primary target. The evidence, however, soon pointed to a much more unlikely suspect. Wildlife officials determined the horse, which was found dead Sept. 18 in a pasture along the upper Imnaha River, had actually been gored by a bull elk — a scenario they admit is extremely rare, though not entirely unheard of. The unusual ruling is tough for some local ranchers to believe in an area where suspicion of wolves runs high. But the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife says its examination clears the predators this time, and places the responsibility on the antlers of a feisty elk. “It is breeding season for elk. Bulls are very aggressive this time of year,” said Mike Hansen, district wildlife biologist with ODFW in Enterprise. The horse was initially found by elk hunters in a 20-acre pasture on the Grouse Creek Ranch, about 18 miles upriver from the town of Imnaha. ODFW arrived the same day to investigate, noticing the carcass was mostly still intact except for a piece of intestine on the ground 40 yards away. After surveying the scene, Hansen said they identified elk and horse tracks indicating the animals had been in a tussle. There was a single half-inch cut on the horse’s nose, deep puncture wound into the groin and scrapes on its side matching the size and space of elk antlers. The horse struggled and slid down the hillside, Hansen said, before it died of internal bleeding. There were no predator tracks of any kind in the area, and no sign of wolf bite marks...more

Barking prairie dogs: Why Denver court is entering rodent dispute

A court battle over a Utah prairie dog ruling that activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act is set to come before a federal appeals court in Denver on Monday. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers want a federal appeals court to overturn the decision striking down protections for prairie dogs found primarily in and around the southern Utah town of Cedar City. The ruling came after residents in the town sued with help from lawyers from the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation. They said federal protections were allowing the small, burrowing animals to take over the town's golf course, airport and cemetery and even interrupt funerals with their barking. In a finding that lawyers say was the first of its kind, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson decided that the Commerce Clause doesn't allow the federal government to regulate animals found on private land in only one state. The federal government and animal rights groups contend that the ruling was a radical departure from previous court decisions, and it could weaken protections for animals all over the country because most animals listed as endangered species are only found in a single state...more

Ag Groups React to EPA Farmworker Standards Update


Ag groups are reacting to the Environmental Protection Agency’s final revisions to the Worker Protection Standard. The American Farm Bureau Federation worries the government is getting away from a science-based approach in guarding against risk. “Farm Bureau shares the agency’s desire to protect workers, but we are concerned that the agency is piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues,” said Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy for AFBF. AFBF filed extensive comments on the proposal more than a year ago. Then, as now, AFBF said EPA itself could not justify the regulation it was proposing. “We are hopeful the agency’s final rule will reflect our concerns and protect farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to promote a safe, productive environment,” Schlegel said. The Agricultural Retailers Association chimed in as well, saying the revision of the regulation is “based on unfounded assumptions and deliberately misleading cost analysis.” “Agricultural retailers pay a lot of attention to worker safety because they care about their employees, and accidents are costly for both employees and employers,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “The final rule overlooks improvements made in worker safety by the industry over the preceding 22 years, most significantly through development and adoption of precision agriculture and drift reduction technologies. It also discounts the significant efforts of state pesticide regulators.” ARA has identified several areas of concern with the new rule: – Opens new doors of potential liability without demonstrating their connection to worker safety – the introduction of an “authorized representative” concept, unclear requirements on who must possess “labeling” and when, and what even constitutes the required “labeling;” and many others... AgWired

Navajos expand program for testing toxic metals in livestock

The Navajo Veterinary and Livestock Program is expanding its free blood testing and examinations for cattle and sheep at least 2 years old that may have been exposed to toxic metals as a result of the Gold King Mine spill. The service is now open to all ranchers and farmers who have livestock living along the Animas or San Juan rivers and are concerned their animals consumed river water during the spill. The Aug. 5 spill released more than 3 million gallons of toxic metals into both rivers. Navajo Tribal Veterinarian Scott Bender said testing and examinations will be completed at the Navajo Veterinary Clinic in Shiprock. "We're opening it up to anybody who uses river water for livestock," Bender said...more

Tents trapped Boy Scouts during deadly N.M. flooding

Deadly floodwaters that tore through a Boy Scout troop's New Mexico campsite as they slept turned their tents into wet cages that clung to their bodies like saran wrap, newly released police reports and taped interviews show. The group of eight California boys and their chaperones fought desperately to escape, some using their teeth to rip holes in their tents. "You could hear people yelling, but you couldn't understand what they were saying," Michael Evans, one of the adults, told police of the chaos that June night. The water swept four Scouts down a canyon. Alden Brock, 13, of Sacramento died. The reports and audio interviews were obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican and reported Sunday. They showed some of the boys and leaders awoke to a rush of water in their tents, and many struggled to find or open their tent zippers. Theodor Morrow, a 19-year-old college student and first-year camp ranger, told investigators he made it outside and tried to hang onto other tents as they drifted away. Logan Reed said he and Brock, his tent mate, were among those who couldn't get out of their tents. "We floated down the stream, I guess, for a little bit," Reed recalled. "I guess there was a hole in the bottom of the tent, and I slipped out of that." Reed said he went underwater for a while and "never saw the tent after that." He held onto a patch of reeds downstream until he was found at sunrise...more

Jury selection begins in civil case over New Mexico wildfire

It will be up to jurors to decide whether two utility companies should be held liable for one of the largest wildfires in New Mexico's recorded history. Jury selection began Monday in Bernalillo before state District Judge Louis McDonald, and the process could take at least three days. The trial is expected to last six weeks. The Las Conchas fire was sparked the afternoon of June 26, 2011, when an aspen tree fell onto power lines running through national forest land in the Jemez Mountains. Fueled by strong winds and tinder-dry vegetation, it burned the equivalent of an acre a second in the first 13 hours alone. The fire raced across the southern edge of the mountain range, scorching a total of more than 240 square miles of forest over the next month. It destroyed dozens of homes, threatened one of the nation's premier government laboratories and blackened nearly two-thirds of Bandelier National Monument along with areas held sacred by Native American tribes...more 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1501

Jean Shepard is one of my favorite female country singers, and here she is with her 1955 hit Beautiful Lies.  The song was written by Jack Rhodes and rose to #4 on the country charts.    The Westerner

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sweet U.S. Government Land Deals Charge Up Energy Companies

When most Americans think of federal lands, pristine national parks like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone come to mind. But American taxpayers actually own much more than that—nearly 650 million acres, almost 30 percent of the land area of the U.S. Among other uses, the government leases tracts to energy companies for far less than fair market value, some as low as $2 an acre, and they in turn run lucrative, carbon-based resource extraction operations that produce nearly a quarter of U.S. energy-related emissions, and nearly 4 percent of global carbon emissions. On Monday, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) will release a report titled “Public Lands, Private Profits: How the U.S. Government is Giving Away America’s Shared Natural Resources to the Wealthiest Companies in the World” that contends the U.S. government’s leasing system is “antiquated,” allowing carbon extractors to take advantage of fire sale prices while also exacerbating global warming. Researchers at the San Francisco-based environmental nonprofit combed through U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease records and found some of the world’s largest conglomerates—Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell among them (RAN dubbed the top federal leaseholders “The Filthy 15”), along with many smaller, independent energy companies—holding millions of acres for the purposes of fracking, drilling and coal mining, all leased at “nominal” fees. Even the Mormon Church’s tax-exempt financial arm is in on the action.  The report points to what it calls “shady dealers,” including Colorado-based Cloud Peak, the fourth largest leaseholder of federal lands for coal development. Cloud Peak operates almost exclusively in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, where the current plan could lead to 28 coal leases involving more than 100,000 acres of public land and more than 10 billion tons of coal mined, exported and burned over the next two decades, according to the report. “Cloud Peak’s shady method is to sell its own coal cheaply within its network of thirty subsidiary companies, pay royalties to the government on these low-cost transactions, and then export the coal to sell at a higher price in Asia,” the report states. “This way, Cloud Peak doesn’t have to pay royalties on the true value of the coal that its subsidiaries receive in foreign markets. Cloud Peak also owns some of the cheapest rights to mine for federal coal, and pays Indigenous tribes even less for rights to mine on their land.”...more 

What’s next after Keystone? Fighting fossil fuel extraction on public lands

Earlier this month, in New York City, — the organization most associated with the campaign against Keystone XL — nearly filled the 2,090-seat opera house at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for headliners Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein to talk about climate change. That many people listening to a couple of nonfiction writers discuss an environmental problem is an impressive feat. The audience cheered loudly throughout and you could feel the political power in the room.

At one point, McKibben put on the screen above the stage a list of major sources of fossil fuels that must stay unreleased if we are to keep below 2 degrees Celsius of warming and avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Almost all of the examples, such as a massive coal deposit in Australia, were abroad. But there was one in the U.S.: federally owned deposits of oil, gas, and coal offshore and on public land.

You could say that was a hint about what will succeed the fight over Keystone as the next major grassroots anti–climate change effort: calling for a presidential ban on extracting fossil fuels offshore and on federal land. “The public lands stuff is emerging as a big focus for all of the groups,” says Karthik Ganapathy, a spokesperson for

Now that Hillary Clinton has announced her opposition to Keystone, the pipeline proposal that seemed like it would never go away now looks like it finally will. The pressure on President Obama to reject it has filtered upward from the climate activists to Obama’s own former secretary of state and his party’s likely nominee to succeed him. Obama is expected to announce his decision on the pipeline in a matter of weeks or months, and it’s widely believed that he’ll say no.

And so that raises a question: What is next? So much energy has gone into stopping this pipeline and so much activist capacity and awareness has been built up to fight it. Stopping the pipeline is only one small part of the larger agenda to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Climate scientists say that 80 percent of the world’s fossil fuels that are already held in reserve by fossil fuel companies cannot be burned if we are to stay below 2C. The Canadian tar sands that Keystone XL would have connected to U.S. pipelines are only one small part of that.

In fact, with the Keystone saga having dragged on longer than anyone expected, environmental groups have already begun their pivot toward focusing on public lands. They have formed the Keep It in the Ground coalition, which includes many of the same groups —, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club — that led the national fight against Keystone. It also includes groups working to protect individual areas such as the Arctic Ocean and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

The Sage Grouse Switcheroo

The Interior Department decided last week not to classify the greater sage grouse as an endangered species, ending five years of deliberation. Some are hailing this as thought-to-be-extinct government restraint, but it’s really political cover for other plans that will do as much or more economic harm...House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop called Interior’s decision a “de facto listing,” and he’s right. Interior’s ploy allows the feds to accomplish what they always wanted while appearing judicious. But with oil and gas development so important to a weak economy, soon we’ll need a job conservation plan for humans...more

Cue the greater sage-grouse lawsuits

...Hardline environmental groups were dismayed. For example, here’s the Center for Biological Diversity’s Randi Spivak: “Greater sage-grouse have been in precipitous decline for years and deserve better than what they’re getting from the Obama administration.” The CBD is considering its legal options, Spivak told Greenwire, and groups like Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians are as well (Most of the mainstream green groups, with a few exceptions like Defenders of Wildlife, are applauding the call). Ironically, though, the hardline groups are partly responsible for the decision they’ll be seeking to overturn. If it hadn’t been for the pressure of a deadline created by an environmental group’s lawsuit, it’s not likely that sage grouse conservation efforts would have ever been strengthened enough to circumvent a listing. Instead, things would have gone along as they did before the court-ordered deadline — some state-level planning, a few collaborative efforts, weak attempts at protecting sage grouse habitat on public land. Enviros won’t be the only ones filing lawsuits. The federal land management plans are sure to be challenged by the oil and gas industry as well, for placing too many restrictions on where and when it can operate. And some Western states are threatening litigation over those plans as well...more

NM Rancher - Bulls & Boldness

One can't speak of ranching in eastern New Mexico, especially the Guadalupe Mountains, without mentioning Willard Campbell Bates. He was the first to introduce Hereford cattle to the area. Bates owned more than 225 sections of ranch land. The Panama Ranch, located in the Lincoln National Forest, had 125 sections and the Cawley Ranch, later known as the Bates – McWilliams Ranch, with upwards of 80 sections located some 32 miles west of Carlsbad. He also owned the large Blue Water Ranch near Sacramento and Weed for a number of years. He was born in Mexico, Missouri, to John William and Dora Hayes Bates on April 10, 1876. At 17 he headed toward Texas and worked on ranches in the area around Abilene, where he met his future wife, Bessie Lee Bell. He wouldn't marry until he was sure he could support a family. In 1893 he went to work for M.B. Huling at the 9K Ranch south of Eddy, now Carlsbad. He convinced Huling to let him work for cattle, not wages. It took Bates six years to accumulate a herd that he then sold. With money in his pocket, he went to marry Bell. They purchased a general store in Mayhill. By 1904, after selling the store, they moved to Otis and bought a farm. Bates walked his own path and never settled for the norm when it came to ranching or life in general...more

Zoo pooh will not be renewed; Denver in dung denial; Green margaritas?

This is a story that Billy, Dolly and the rest of the elephants at the Denver Zoo will probably never forget: how they almost, but not quite, became not just animals on exhibit, but also sources of renewable energy.. A decade or so ago, zoo leaders had an innovative idea. As part of their quest to become “the greenest zoo in the country” and a zero-waste facility by 2025, they would develop a technique to transform elephant dung and other waste at the zoo such as paper plates and dirty diapers into fuel pellets that would generate electricity through a process called gasification. The state and the city said yes. The Environmental Protection Agency was interested, as was the National Renewable Energy Lab. Permits were obtained. All was a go. The gasification plant would be built on the zoo grounds in the heart of Denver’s City Park. The zoo showed off the potential of its pooh by powering a blender to make margaritas and, later, a motorized rickshaw that went on a promotional tour to zoos across the West. There was even a nice irony: This green electricity would be powering an elephant exhibit sponsored by a major consumer of fossil fuels, Toyota...The zoo had spent nearly $4 million during construction. Yet, while the plant was nearing completion, the zoo was still refining the development of the fuel pellets it planned to make from its diverse stream of waste. “What we were still working on was pellet consistency,” Barnhart said. “How do you create a consistent pellet out of an inconsistent waste stream?” Another factor: The zoo hired a new president and chief executive, Shannon Block. She started in March and began pursuing a substantial new master plan for the zoo. Using elephant waste to make energy, it turns out, will not be in it...more 

Did the elephant dung powered motorized rickshaw come to your community?

Who knew that elephant dung was so diverse?  It will make margaritas and run rickshaws but that's it?  What's the purpose of having a rickshaw if its motorized anyway?

Then there was the PCP...the pellet consistency problem.  Guess these dung dumbies couldn't get their shit together. 

Fed Threatened To Cut Whistleblower With Cake Knife

Profanity-laced tirades, a threatening cake knife and $1.1 million worth of time fraud are at the center of a Census Bureau office scandal, according to a report the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General. Forty current and former officials in the Census Bureau’s employment office defrauded the federal government of more than 19,000 work hours over a four-year period, and one supervisor hired a contractor with whom he had a “sexual relationship,” the IG said. When one Census Hiring and Employment Check worker reported what was happening to the IG, a colleague took the knife in his hand for cutting cake at an office party and, making a “stabbing motion,” said, “This is for who went to the OIG!” the report said. The same knife-wielding employee also said the whistleblower should “watch out,” calling the whistleblower “chicken****,” a “rat,” and a “snitch,” according to the report...more

Girl suspended from school for wearing wrong shade of green

An 8-year-old girl received a one-day suspension from her southern New Jersey public elementary school for wearing a shirt that was the wrong shade of green. The girl's mother tells WTXF-TV that Winslow Township Elementary School No. 4 sent her daughter home Tuesday for wearing a kelly green polo shirt, which was deemed to be in violation of the Camden County school's dress code. The school's dress code specifies that shirts and blouses may only be white, dark green or navy...more

WA School Bans Playground Tag to ‘Ensure Emotional Safety of Students’

Earlier this month, administrators at Mercer Island School District in Washington State felt compelled to do something for their children this year by banning the playground game of tag, because it just might make some kids feel bad, they said. In a letter home to parents, Mercer Island School District communications director Mary Grady insisted that, from now on, kids would be ordered to “keep their hands to themselves,” and tag would be banned “to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.” “School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break,” Grady concluded. Needless to say, many parents were flabbergasted by the extreme response to the venerable schoolyard game...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1500

We'll celebrate our 1500th tune on Ranch Radio with a fiddle tune for Bobby Jones.  This is bound to make him dance a jig (even if it hurts).  Here's The Pete Williams Rag by none other than Fiddling Pete Williams himself.  The tune is on the Collectors Label CD titled Tough Texas.  The Westerner

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

All it takes is money

by Julie Carter

The realtor's invention of the 40-acre ranch brought agriculture holdings to town, so to speak. Those that dreamed of being landowners, ranchers and yes, even farmers gained a way to fulfill that fantasy.

I learned the dream is alive and well by what I overheard at a farm and ranch store. A well-heeled couple walked through the door and explained to the man at the counter that they were setting up a big farm and needed to buy some equipment.

Dutifully he walked them through all the sizes and styles of tractors available as well as the assorted attachments. The missus emphasized their requirement for the "heavy duty" stuff so it would hold up to the hard use they planned to give it.

The tractor she picked out had nine steps to get up in the cab — one of those really big monsters.
They also bought discs, hay rakes, balers, blades, plows, harrows and everything else that the dealership offered, taking advantage of the ongoing special — "Buy one, get three percent off the next one." Can't be too cash conscious when you're going into farming.

The next day the couple invited the implement dealer down to see their farm and for him to bring the papers to sign for all the equipment. Jake arrived at what he assumed to be only the headquarters of the farming operation, not knowing for sure just how far toward the horizon the borders of this "big farm" went. He looked around and the lady came out of the house, saying, "Come on, I'll show you around the farm."

He walked with her to a brand new (still with the paper license plate) Grand Cherokee which had a trailer attached. He noticed the trailer had one 12-inch tire and one 18-inch tire on it. She complained that the trailer was not pulling very well at all. Kindly, he explained what he thought the problem to be. But just as if she didn't hear him, in her next sentence she declared that since she is obviously going to have to buy a new trailer, she might as well get a new pick-up too.

Rather than unhook the trailer, she suggested they just walk around the farm. The tractor dealer was a little taken aback in that he really didn't plan on spending all day hiking to look at a farm. It was then he found out the farm was 58.2 acres.

So as not to discourage the sale he was making, he indeed walked around the farm, even managing to keep a straight face. During this stroll around the farm, the lady asked, "What do you think we should raise on our farm?"

Jake's thoughts were, "You couldn't raise hell with a jug of whiskey. This is nothing but a rock pile." But he said nothing, just shrugged and maintained a blank look.

Before he departed, the couple set up a time with him to get some tractor driving lessons, since neither of them had ever been close to a tractor except the day they were at the implement dealership.

He secured permission from a guy he knew to use a vacant 80 acres for the tractor driving lessons. His plan was to put the tractor and driver square in the middle of it and let them practice. He also promised to replace any fences that might get torn up. Later that same day, he saw the missus driving a new Ford King Ranch pickup. He assumed that she is now also a rancher. The possibilities are endless.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Audacious, audacious, … always audacious

Is Reincarnation at hand?
Audacious, audacious, … always audacious
Operation Wetback
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Although Dr. Ben Carson partially extracted himself from my doghouse with his comments on the matter of never electing a president that marches to extra-constitutional doctrine, he was placed there in part on his comments during his border visit. His observation of how bad it is was particularly patronizing.
            “Hey, ya’ll ought to come out here and see how bad this (border situation) really is,” was his paraphrased remark.
            Of course he was issuing the call to the ensconced elites of significance, the movers and the shakers of his world of urban ascendancy. Those of us who happen to believe we are American citizens of equal constitutional standing had to stand around and shake our heads.
            We have known since at least 1954 what a joke the southern border actually is. In fact, our Texas brethren would suggest the Mexican border has never been secure with its constitutional mandate for protection. It has been marked by a federal void and, as a result, the border has always been and remains a lawless frontier.
            As residents of the borderland, Carson wasn’t talking to us or for us. He was communicating over and through our existence to the asphaltites that dominate our regulatory world.
            “Hey, this is really bad out here!” he insisted.
            When he mentioned that some of the international boundary was actually four strands of barbwire and opined why that was even there, we sure wanted to mention it is to keep our cattle from being lost into that endless void of lawlessness. That would complicate things, however, and asphaltites already have a hard time discerning those things that are real versus … make believe.
            “L’audace, l’audace, l’audace … tout jour (sic) l’audace”
            George Patton attempted to translate his version of the quotation from Frederick the Great into his notebook while he was at Fort Myer. Mistakes not withstanding, it became the byline for his military career.
It was probably magnified within his being long before that and may have been one of his coequal paths of conquest during his honeymoon in London in 1910. It was there he chased down a copy of Carl von Clausewitz’ Principles of War. There is evidence he spent so much time reading it his bride, Beatrice, was incensed. She let him know it by demanding more of his uninterrupted attention (his colorful response to her is worth a read).
A major hallmark of the Clausewitz principle of warfare was the measure of the means along with the will to fight. It has been described mathematically as a ratio, but, to the astute, it can also be a model of linear regression whereby the stepwise increase in one can impact the other as long as both are present. The means always included troops, weapons, and supplies. The will to fight resided in politicians, leadership, and troop morale. An enemy with vast means superiority could be defeated by an opponent with a stronger will to fight. Wars of the 20th Century can be mapped by the ratios of the variables, but the Civil War was truly the testing ground for the theorem. The North was vastly superior in terms of means, but the will to fight was a menacing anchor. Patton would argue it was the politics and the anemic leadership that nearly cost the great provoker, Lincoln, his war.
Patton, knowingly or unknowingly, modified the Clausewitz teachings and routinely shaped his own battlefields by relentlessly seeking points of weakness and or vulnerabilities as opposed to concentrations of enemy strength. As such, classical Frederick the Great reappeared within Patton’s perpetual intent to keep his enemies, foreign and domestic, in suspense of what he actually had planned.
Audacious, audacious … audacious!
Operation Wetback
Donald Trump’s stir fried debate on the border remains the hottest potato in the GOP egg toss. If it wasn’t so serious, it is actually humorous to watch the candidates strategize new and novel one liners on the issue. What this exercise of full disclosure has wrought, however, is the press has worked the message back to the premise that sending all trespass violators home to their countrymen is impossible.
Everybody now agrees with that except Trump, and, of course, the likes of Presidents Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower. Hoover made the decision to send illegals packing to create some wiggle room for job availability for American citizens in the Depression era. He collared some two million Mexicans and crossed them into the open arms of their endemically corrupt government. Truman did the same thing in the avalanche of returning veterans who had saved the free world in World War II. The little piano/ poker player from Missouri correctly deemed Americans needed those jobs more than any illegal Latin proxy.
Ike, though, was the he dog on the deportation express. In his Operation Wetback, he signed his name to a legitimate presidential demand and gave the order to send home anybody found to be in the United States without proper authorization. He didn’t mince words. He didn’t suggest it couldn’t be done. He didn’t even wring his hands over the socio-economic impact to the violating trespassers. He recognized that the rights of Americans held sway over all domestic job opportunities, and those of illegal foreigners not only didn’t have any priority… they had no rights.
It is estimated Eisenhower exported a whopping 12M Mexicans home to be with their loved ones or to pack their gunny sacks with essentials and again try to penetrate la Frontera. That represented about 7.5% of the total human occupation of the nation at that time (that happens to compare to as much as 6.3% of the same occupation of illegal trespassers in the nation today).
Can’t make it happen, eh?
What remains extant is that same porous border. Carson called it correctly as does every other visitor who isn’t ruled by a contrived agenda. That, by the way, includes every border state elected representative. Their advocacy for border protection is a stale canard. It should put every one of them in jeopardy of reelection and or recall. Their political presence has done nothing to protect this most vital of all American interests.
Recently, I found several remastered film clips of General Patton speaking. My interest was drawn to listen to his high pitched voice that belied his warrior persona as represented in the role played by George C. Scott. What I saw floored me.
It wasn’t just his voice as much as it was his mannerisms when he spoke. He used aids sparingly and seemingly only for reminders or points of emphasis. It was largely extemporaneous. He spoke in generalities and was demonstrative when he referenced individuals. The latter was no doubt the result of lessons learned from past hardships he had endured by being more direct and blunt. By no means was he remotely a polished speaker. When he stumbled, and, that was often, he attempted and was generally successful in altering the miscue by interjecting humor or subtle patronizing engagement.
His mannerisms and speech patterns were remarkably Trump like.
We now have a good idea why Patton spoke as he did, and the patterns may actually highlight a similar condition within Donald Trump, but the point remains. Patton energized and elevated the Clausewitz effect every time he was given an opportunity. He shortened the war. He derived success from an array of personal qualities but the ability to be unpredictable was his most effective leadership quality.
Trump is no different. In fact, he mentions he is not going to disclose all intentions. He can’t nor should he. His most important issue is the border I view daily from a distance of 30 miles. When Trump claims he can make the Mexicans build a wall, he probably can.
Little is said of Mexican remittances home from illegal brethren in the US. Those remittances now exceed revenues from Mexican oil sales. When Trump needs to trigger a coming to Jesus moment among the generational corrupt Mexican government, all he has to do is to order his agencies to start enforcing the law which includes rounding up cross border intruders and sending them home.
Mexico’s contracting economy is the issue. The reliance on oil revenues and dollar remittances from north of the border have made lawmakers complacent.  Failure to raise taxes and reduce dependence on oil revenues that represent 40% of that government’s revenues puts them in jeopardy. The specter of slashing money flowing from the United States along with the social catastrophe of repatriating 20M people would send shockwaves through Mexico.
After a wide eyed moment of silence … the response might well be, “How high, how deep, and how long should we build thees’ wall, Seńor Trump?”

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Trump would be crucified for suggesting to follow and enforce the border laws right now … the press would erupt with a holy war.”

Baxter Black: Let's hear a round of applause

There's not a piece of black rubber around their saddle horn. Their nylon rope is as limp as boneless chicken. It rope hangs from a rope strap girded in a way that allows them to have it loose and in the air in less than a second! It is the equivalent of a pistolero, strapped down tight, loaded and cocked. They probably shod the horse they are riding, they wear light leather gloves. The bat wing chaps are broken-in and well-scarred. The long-sleeved shirt was put on clean this morning. A piggin' string is looped through the gullet.

Saddled, we ride out, me and them. We're headed for the brush, the scrub, the mesquite el monte, they call it. Cool this morning even though it will reach 96 degrees by 11:30. We're on the hunt for 3-4 week old calves to brand. We do it a couple times a week. The extended calving season results from leaving your bulls in year round. Spring and early summer is when most of them calve. We have the first option of easin' up on a calf, calmly tossin' a soft loop around the neck and brand him on the "outside," meaning in the pasture. However, the harder-to-catch calves often need to be trailed the 2 or 3 miles to the corral. The latter isn't necessarily the easier way. There are lots of exits along the trails for them to duck in to.

By 7:30 am we had managed to rope and brand 2 calves within half an hour! Things went right. The cows stayed calm and we could get within 10 or 12 feet from their calves on a horse. Even a middlin' roper can catch'em sometimes. We finished them, mounted and headed deeper into the 12-section pasture. We made a big 'vuelta,' translated: circle, rodeo, paseo. The word dally comes from dar la vuelta. The three of us try to stay within sight of each other because it's a lot more difficult for only one cowboy to keep one or more pairs together and drive them to the corral.

Over the next couple miles we ran into a dozen cows with at least one "orejana", no brand. We get behind them and spread out. The cows line out in a trot. The 'broncas' begin lookin' for places to escape. Through a mile of 20 ft. tall mesquite and three arroyos a football field wide we lose half of them, but we've still got the orejana! By the time we get to the middle drinker and turn toward the corral half a mile away, the cows have got a second wind.

In and out of the sandy little arroyo the cows, horses and vaqueros are divin' into the thick brush at a gallop, pushing and breaking limbs, covering your face, hangin' on to your rope suddenly the arroyo widens! I swing around to locate the mama and baby! Franciso is ahead and to my left, Poncho is comin' out of the brush from my right.

There was a micro moment, an explosion!...

I respond to some comments

On my post The Sage Grouse: Saved or Sold Out? Dave Skinner had this to say:

Wow, what a slanted hunk of drivel, but expected of, which is anonymously registered since 2002.

About us:
As the digital division of Participant Media, the folks who brought you such acclaimed documentaries as Food, Inc., An Inconvenient Truth, and The Cove, TakePart is also a hub for the hundreds of thousands of highly active and loyal fans of these films.

Are you kidding me? No wonder it's all about Erik Molvar. 

First, thanks for the background on the source of the article.  I chose to use it for two reasons.  First, the title was catchy and I hoped it would attract readers to the blog.  Second, and most important, the quote, “The land management plan is getting heavy scrutiny from our legal team” backed up my prediction the most radical elements of the enviro movement would challenge this in court.

On my post FWS poised to keep sage grouse off endangered species list where I used the phrase "Crowing on Collaboration Crap" and referred to it as the "CCC show", Floyd Rathbun had this to say:

    Pretty clever. I was told the Three C's were from the Bruce Babbitt Range Reform effort and now I finally understand that the Three C's are an acronym for "crowing, collaboration, and crap" --- makes sense. 
    Webster’s dictionary defines collaboration as “To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupying one’s country.” In Nevada we have a committee that wrote a federally approved state sage grouse plan that has no possibility of increasing the numbers of sage grouse. In fact increasing the numbers of birds is not listed as a goal, just increasing the amount of sage grouse biologist habitat. 
    Sage grouse in the Great Basin thrived in the mid-Twentieth Century with peak numbers occurring in 1950-1970 well after the establishment of ranches, roads, and travel by lots of people to mining camps. Sage grouse were hard to find prior to 1850 when the so-called ideal sage grouse habitat was completely undisturbed, entirely natural, and devoid of most wildlife.

I was introduced to the 3 C's as a result of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. I played a part in the passage and implementation of that bill, and it contains the phrase "consultation, cooperation and coordination" when referring to allotment management plans.  I don't recall the phrase in the Rangeland Reform fiasco, but do remember the Cooperative Conservation Contracts during the George W. Bush administration. And just last week Secretary Jewell said the Endangered Species Act was a "critical catalyst for conservation." I prefer my two uses of the 3 C's to hers.

And on my post Can a Little Bird Defeat Big Oil? Today, the Government Decides I liked Doug Dennison's observation:

 Funny how these left-wing reporters always point out the contributions that legislators have received from "big oil" while they ignore the contributions that environmental groups have also made to the likes of Edward Markey, Martin Heinrich, Barbara Boxer and others.

I appreciate your comments on the blog and on facebook.

Rodeo World Champions and other top rodeo athletes committed to 2016 ERA tour

BOERNE, TX (September 24, 2015) – Although the ERA is disappointed in the recent decisions of PRCA leadership, the ERA is working to ensure that the top rodeo athletes in the world will continue to participate at professional rodeos across the country. The ERA and its athletes are committed to the sport of rodeo, its fans, and are determined to grow the sport. They want to assure fans that these newest bylaws will not affect in anyway the vision of the ERA and making rodeo better for future generations. As mentioned in a September 15th ERA Athlete announcement, the ERA Tour will be the athlete’s primary focus for their 2016 rodeo seasons. However, they want to reassure fans that they will still be competing at traditional rodeo events during the 2016 season, but have elected to not participate in other tour-formatted events. Their focus and commitment is fueled by their desire to leave the sport better than they found it. For the first time in rodeo history, the sport of rodeo and its top athletes will be showcased on a national stage with ERA’s partnership with FOX Sports. As is the case with other professional sports, this increased exposure will enhance the sport and its participation at all levels. Ultimately providing more opportunities for current and future rodeo athletes. Information about the 2016 tour including the announcement of the tour roster, event dates and details on the qualification system will be coming soon and will be released.  Press Release 

 For those not familiar with all this the ERA website is here.  Also see:

Tryan, Brazile among 42 world champs launching new rodeo association

The Elite Rodeo Association: The Future of Rodeo?

Elite Rodeo Athletes Announce FOX Sports Deal

PRCA fires back at new Elite Rodeo Athletes tour, vows to terminate memberships

‘Birth Tourism’ Booming In Bay Area Despite Fed Crackdown

A bill that would end birthright citizenship in the U.S. is gaining steam in Washington, thanks to the Republican Presidential campaign. It targets a controversial underground industry known as birth tourism, pregnant foreign women traveling to this country just for the purpose of delivering American citizen babies. Business is booming here in the Bay Area, especially in the South Bay. But publicity is not welcome. “I don’t have a comment, I don’t have a comment,” said Jerry Zhou. He runs a popular tourist agency. The destination, not Fisherman’s Wharf, or the Golden Gate Bridge, but a regular home on a residential street in North San Jose. We’ve learned the home is actually a birthing hotel. It caters to pregnant women, mostly from China, who come to the U.S. to grab that prize: instant U.S. citizenship for their baby. Neighbor Robert Ramos says the women keep a low profile, rarely walking the neighborhood, going in and out only in a van with tinted windows. But he says what’s going on inside is pretty obvious. “At one time I think there were four — four of them at the same time,” he said. “It’s pretty predictable, you can see when somebody’s giving birth. You don’t see them afterwards, and then a new family comes in.” The house is one of at least two locations run by Jerry Zhou, who advertises on the internet under the name California Baby Care. For $3,000 to $4,000 a month everything’s included: dedicated nannies, professional chefs, transport to- and from the hospital, and a passport for the newborn. “There’s a business apparently established apparently to do this. I think it’s fraud,” said Ramos. Homeland security cracked down on a similar operation in Southern California earlier this year. ICE agents raided three addresses where they found dozens of women from China, either pregnant or who had just given birth...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1499

Our gospel song today is The Range In The Sky by Rex Allen.  The tune is an M.M. Cole transcription and is available on the British Archives of Country Music CD Rex Allen - Songs Of The West.  The Westerner

Friday, September 25, 2015

Editorial - Forest management, wildfires and climate change

Capital Press is out with a powerful editorial on managing federal lands. Saying many politicians blame the huge fire seasons on either climate change or drought, they identify the real problem: poor management.

For those who blame it all on the drought, the editorial writers say:

For the years 2005 to 2014, an average of 6 million acres has burned annually in the U.S., mainly the West. Most of those 10 years predate the four-year drought in California or the droughts in any of the other Western states.

For those who are concerned about climate change, they should support management to minimize the number and size of wildfires. Why? Because wildfires "release massive amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are linked to climate change." The writers cite a Park Service study showing wildfire accounts for up to 7 percent of California's carbon emissions.

So what is the management problem? This is where they really shine:

The poor management of federal land, which has allowed forests to become overgrown and bulging with fuel for fires, is the primary cause of the increasing number of large wildfires.

The writers also raise the issue of access, and therefore non-use, and specifically identify all the road closures going on across the West:

 Closing these massive areas to access assures that they will never be properly managed for multiple use or thinned to reduce wildfire fuel. They will become de facto wilderness areas — and stockpiles of fuel for wildfires. 

And they make no bones about the solution:

In the wake of this year’s catastrophic fires, even the most hard-headed politicians seem to agree that the forests need to be “better-managed.” We will translate: They need to be logged, either through thinning or through commercial timber sales. And more livestock grazing is needed to reduce the amount of vegetation that piles up as fuel for the next wildfire.

This is a statement of the obvious. The only answer to reducing the size and intensity of wildfires is to reduce the amount of fuel in the forests.

How refreshing.  Every Westerner owes a big "Thank You" to Capital Press.

Greater sage-grouse denied protection; Outlook for iconic bird is bleak

In a double-whammy that will doom the sagebrush steppe and the iconic Greater sage-grouse to a dismal future, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today the Obama Administration’s decision to rely on incomplete planning efforts to protect the bird, rather than the true safety net of the Endangered Species Act. In addition to the finding of “Not Warranted” for federal protection under the ESA, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service released Records of Decision for land use plans across the west that fall short of what even the government’s own scientists say is necessary to prevent the extinction of the species.

"The Secretary seemed determined to put a happy face on the future of the American West, and so she willfully ignored the hard decisions like limiting energy development, prohibiting transmission lines, and blocking spring cattle grazing,” said Travis Bruner, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “There is no ‘win’ here for sage-grouse. There is only a slighty slower trajectory towards extinction. If this is, as Jewell claims, ‘the future of conservation in America,’ than the sage-grouse isn’t the only species that’s in trouble.”

The “Not Warranted” determination is based in large part on the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service Resource Management Plans and Amendments that cover roughly half of the remaining sage-grouse habitat. But, unless they have changed significantly from the final proposals, none of these plans draw firm management parameters around livestock grazing, the most ubiquitous threat to the species across its range. All the plans defer changes to grazing to future decision-making, despite having clear scientific recommendations and court orders describing what must be done to protect the bird during critical stages of its life cycle.

“It’s obvious from Interior’s propaganda that they have not accurately identified the threat that livestock pose,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Simply throwing money at the problem through the Sage Grouse Initiative is like putting an expensive bandage on a gaping chest wound. The failure here was to staunch the flow and limit livestock’s destructive impacts by significantly altering grazing management.”

The most endangered resource is trust when it comes to wildlife issues

By Rocky Barker

Duane Coombs exhibited the optimism that every Western rancher and farmer needs to have about the overwhelming challenges they face in the life they love.

Those include drought, fires, floods, disease, poor markets, predators and just bad luck. But most of the ranchers I’ve known have the view that Coombs has: Things are always going to get better next year.

Coombs, who manages the Smith Creek Ranch near Austin, Nev., spoke Tuesday at a news conference in Denver in favor of the massive collaborative conservation plan unveiled this week to protect sage grouse across 173 million acres and 11 states. He told an audience that included four Western governors from both political parties and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that his 11-year-old daughter Desatoya (Desi for short) has helped him to overcome his own distrust of government while working on the ranch to save the bird his family loves.

“In this little girl’s life, government is her partner,” Coombs said.

Named for a mountain range near the ranch, Desi has watched her father put white streamers on his barbed wire — she calls them “chicken flappers” — to keep the grouse from flying into the fences. One of her best friends is U.S. Geological Survey biologist Katelyn Andrle.

If the American West can take Coombs’ approach to restoring the sage grouse and saving the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, then perhaps it remains “Next Year Country.” But it’s a daunting task.

Energy companies are considering lawsuits because they think the 98 federal land plan amendments that include sage grouse conservation measures are too tough. Environmental groups such as Western Watersheds Project, Advocates for the West and the Center for Biodiversity think the plans don’t go far enough to turn the bird from the path to extinction.

At the heart of both sides’ reservations is the incredible distrust that has evolved over the past 40 years of public lands governance. Each side has valid reasons for their views, but taking that leap of faith that created this “all lands” conservation plan requires challenging their own status quo.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Ranchers slam federal agencies for launching restrictive land-use plans

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are condemning a move by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to implement their restrictive land-use plans after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said this week that the greater sage grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"The administration came to the logical decision not to list the sage grouse, but went ahead and forced through their land use plans, which are just as concerning as a listing," PLC President Brenda Richards said. "Secretary Jewell's claim that the ESA is effective and flexible is entirely flawed and misleading. Of the 1,500 domestic species listed since 1973, less than 2 percent have ever been deemed recovered. Sage grouse habitat and population are thriving because of the work of the ranchers across the West and the states' efforts, not due to the Environmental Impact Statements, which have yet to even be implemented."

The groups said the species’ rehabilitation has been in large part due to the efforts of the Sage Grouse Initiative, which was a partnership between private landowners and the USDA that maintained working landscapes.

"Wildfire and development are the primary threats to the sage grouse and their habitat, yet this administration is systematically wiping out multiple-use and ranching through regulatory overreach,” said NCBA Federal lands Committee Chairman Robbie LeValley. “It's clear that these plans are more about managing away from productive uses, rather than actually protecting the bird."  Press Release

Obama to overhaul process for offsetting environmental harm

The White House is preparing a presidential memorandum that seeks to streamline how the government offsets damage to public lands, waters and wildlife, according to several sources. The memo aims to consolidate separate mitigation policy reform efforts that are already underway at federal agencies and learn from past mistakes, sources said. It would affect everything from energy production on the federal estate to the construction of government buildings. "It has the potential to create a new, more collaborative relationship between industry and the government that would serve both interests," said an Obama administration official who was not authorized to speak to the press. "Industry would be able to use federal resources in a way that would contribute to sustaining the yield of resources over time and growing them." That proactive mitigation for timber harvesting and other land uses is necessary, the source said, "because the population is growing and changing. So if you're going to continue to provide those goods and services off that resource base, you need to conserve it or grow it." But oil and gas industry groups are skeptical about the effort, which sources suggested could promote closer ties between regulators and drillers, because the changes are being crafted behind closed doors. "It's a great goal, but collaboration doesn't happen by dropping a policy on people that they can't see beforehand," said Kathleen Sgamma, a vice president at the Western Energy Alliance who hadn't heard about the effort until she was contacted by Greenwire. "That's not collaboration."...more

Udall announces legislation in wake of mine-waste spill

The federal government would be required to identify the most dangerous abandoned mines in the West and make plans to clean them up under legislation introduced Tuesday in response to the spill of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, outlined the proposal during a conference call with reporters. He said the main focus would be compensating communities affected by the spill, but another goal is to prevent future environmental disasters.  As for compensation, the legislation outlines allowable damages and establishes a claims office within the EPA. Udall's office says property, business and financial losses would be considered for compensation. There's no appropriation attached to the legislation. Rather, any claims would be paid out of a permanent federal fund that covers court judgments or settlements...more

Many of those abandoned mines in NM are in areas where Udall has supported either legislative or administrative designations that prohibit new roads and mechanized vehicles or mechanical equipment.  How does he propose we clean up those abandoned mines?

NM horse slaughterhouse suit allowed to stand

A judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed in 2013 by the Attorney General’s Office against a Roswell company that wanted to open a horse slaughterhouse, rejecting an argument that the lawsuit is no longer relevant. State District Judge Francis Mathew also expanded a previously issued preliminary injunction to prevent a second, successor company from opening a slaughterhouse at the site. “This is, for lack of a better term, beating a dead horse,” company attorney A. Blair Dunn told the court. His clients “could not operate if they wanted to,” he said. He accused the Attorney General’s Office of “an endless stream of harassment” against Valley Meat, saying the AG is pursuing a legislative goal – outlawing horse slaughter – through court action.  The judge didn’t go as far as the AG’s Office wanted him to. The AG also had asked that the companies be barred from pursuing regulatory approval from federal and state agencies for horse slaughter or wastewater discharge, but Mathew didn’t do that...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1498

We'll close out the week with Texas Ruby & Curly Fox performing Blue Love.  The tune was recorded in Chicago on February 15, 1945 and released as Columbia 37075.  For those who may not know, Curly Fox was touring as a fiddle player when only 13 and made his first recordings in 1929 with the Roane County Ramblers.  He teamed up with singer Ruby Owens in 1937.  She was a sister to Tex Owens, the writer of Cattle Call.  They married two years later and were popular performers till 1963 when Ruby was killed in a fire.  Curly never recorded again.  The Westerner

Thursday, September 24, 2015

PRCA fires back at new Elite Rodeo Athletes tour, vows to terminate memberships

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is firing back at cowboys and cowgirls who want to compete on other tours, namely the new Elite Rodeo Athletes tour set to start in March of next year.
The PRCA released a statement on Tuesday announcing new bylaws for the 2016 season. Within the new rules is a measure to make sure cowboys and cowgirls "are not pursuing interests in Conflicting Rodeo Associations while receiving the benefits of PRCA membership." Several current and former PRCA world champions announced earlier this year that they would collectively form the ERA to ensure less travel while hoping to earn more money.  Last week, the ERA announced its cowboys and cowgirls would cut back on PRCA rodeos to focus more attention on the new tour World champions Clay Tryan, Kaycee Feild, Bobby Mote and Trevor Brazile are among members of the ERA. The PRCA responeded Tuesday by announcing that "any person applying for PRCA membership who is an officer, board member, employee or has an ownership or financial interest of any form in a Conflicting Rodeo Association shall not be issued a membership, permit or renewal of membership with the PRCA." The news could deal a major blow to some of the PRCA's top rodeos, such as Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Denver, along with the lucrative Cowboy Christmas stretch, in which the world's top cowboys and cowgirls regularly compete...more

From the PRCA website, here are the new bylaws:

I. Competing Rodeo Events Bylaws B15.1.1.1-.2
B15.1.1.1        Definition of Competing Rodeo Events. Competing Rodeo Events are events not sanctioned by the PRCA in which contestants compete in two or more of the following events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. 
B15.1.1.2        Rodeo Committees. In light of the PRCA's long-standing and ongoing efforts to create popular and successful PRCA-sanctioned professional rodeo competitions and promote rodeo sports in general, including but not limited to creating the National Finals Rodeo event and qualifying points system, soliciting corporate sponsors and television contracts, establishing rodeo rules and regulations, and developing youth and new contestant growth programs—and in order to protect the quality of all PRCA-sanctioned events—any rodeo committee and/or contracting party involved in producing a PRCA-sanctioned event agrees not to schedule, produce, promote or participate in a Competing Rodeo Event seventy-two hours before, during or seventy-two hours after a PRCA-sanctioned event.  The PRCA shall have the right to approve specific events that are in conflict with this Bylaw should the PRCA deem any such event to be in the interest of its members and the promotion of professional rodeo sports in general. 
II. Conflicting Rodeo Association Interests Bylaws B.
B1.2.1.1          Definition of Conflicting Rodeo Association.  Conflicting Rodeo Associations are companies, partnerships, associations or other entities whose direct or indirect purpose is to produce, promote, and/or sanction professional rodeo contests in which contestants compete in two or more of the following events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. 
B1.2.1.2          Prohibition on Conflicting Rodeo Association Interests.  In order to ensure that PRCA members—whose popularity and success are the result of participation in PRCA-sanctioned rodeos and related PRCA promotional efforts and activities (and the associated costly investments the PRCA has made in promoting PRCA events and rodeo sports in general)—are not pursuing interests in Conflicting Rodeo Associations while receiving the benefits of PRCA membership and are putting forth their best efforts on behalf of the PRCA, any person applying for PRCA membership who is an officer, board member, employee or has an ownership or financial interest of any form in a Conflicting Rodeo Association shall not be issued a membership, permit or renewal of membership with the PRCA.